Photo: Adam Ravetch

Explore Manatee Habitats in VR with Filmmaker Adam Ravetch

Fresh from his trip in the Artic, Emmy Award-winning wildlife cinematographer Adam Ravetch talks about his experiences filming the endangered Florida Manatee at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. In this producer spotlight, Adam goes over his special passion for marine wildlife and highlights the benefits of working with the 360Abyss v4 underwater VR camera system.

Working With the 360Abyss

The 360Abyss is a magnetically controlled dive housing designed for filming 360 video underwater.
The 360Abyss v4 is a magnetically controlled dive housing with interchangeable filters and individual camera compartments designed for filming 360 video underwater.

“When shooting wildlife, especially underwater, the great up-close encounters are always so fleeting and brief. It is important to have a VR underwater housing that can turn all 6 cameras on simultaneously to not miss an opportunity. Utilizing the capabilities of 360RIZE’s underwater 360Abyss, with one swipe of a magnet, I’m allowed the luxury of easily recording, on and off,  all 6 cameras simultaneously, much in the same way we all shoot with a typical 2D underwater housing. This allows me not only the freedom to be efficient with the amount of VR footage I capture during my dive, but more importantly it allows me to create and focus on the story at hand.”

Filmed by Adam Ravetch and Produced by 360RIZE.

Bringing Awareness to Endangered Species

In 2016, Adam traveled to Florida’s Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge with Nogi Award-winning diver Bill Macdonald to capture Manatees in VR. He highlighted the importance of finding these animals in crystal clear water to make people feel what it was like to be there. With a bit of patience, they were able to find great visibility and focused in on a mother and calf while the calf was nursing. Capturing this iconic imagery in VR is essential not only for the experience, but also to create an emotional connection to promote the Manatee’s very existence. Huge strides have been made in the last couple of decades to protect manatees. Not too long ago the manatee was on the brink of extinction, but now, through conservation and education, many organizations are working to ensure their future. 

Photo: Adam Ravetch

For Adam, the manatee represents a sort of existence we long ago left. They are unique on this planet, and stay true to themselves within their nature. Related to elephants, they belong to their own special scientific family of vegetarian sea cows that dates back over 50 million years. Armed with the spirit of their ancestors, and only their skills and wits to survive,  the manatee have somehow navigated the challenges of a modern society riddled with boat traffic while staying steadfast to their migratory routes, strong history, and defining culture.

Strong and adaptable with a kidney that allows them to operate in both fresh and saltwater environments, year after year the manatee give birth to the next generation and return to crystal river to pass on their knowledge of the area to their calves. Protected now from modern-day threats such as boat propellers, the manatee look to be in very good shape for years to come. 

Photo: Adam Ravetch

“Documenting in VR, up close with a lone mother and calf pair, I couldn’t help but make a connection. First, the baby investigated me, looked me in the eye, and then the mother, ever so watchful, quickly swam over to determine if I was friend or foe. It is what I love about filming underwater. Under the sea, it is 800 times more dense than air, which means you can only see so far and you are forced to get close to experience anything. It is in these close-up encounters, only feet away from an animal, that you look into their eyes and make a connection. Good or bad, there you are with a wild creature, sometimes as dangerous as a polar bear or great white,  and sometimes as calm and peaceful as a sea cow. And every time, no matter how intense and how wild, I wonder what the animal is thinking. It makes you realize how similar we are, putting into perspective both the animal’s and our importance on this planet; and always, it leaves me for the want of going back, underwater, to see more.”  

Learn more about the 360Abyss v4

We at 360RIZE hope this article brings education and awareness to the conservation of endangered marine life and are proud to be working with professionals like Adam to deploy immersive technology and raise this awareness. Stay tuned for more content from our partners.